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Ask HN: Do you meditate and which system do you follow?
68 points by cvaidya1986 on Sept 26, 2017 | hide | past | web | favorite | 55 comments



Yes. I meditate for 10-15 minutes daily after waking up in the morning. I use mindful meditation -- where I just observe my breath and if my thoughts starts wandering I just say "that's nice, but not right now" and let it go and focus back into my breathing. (Wrote a simple guide in my blog here, sorry for the plug: http://www.enlight8.com/guide-to-mindful-meditation/). Sometimes I also just use a phrase like "I am" repeated over and over again so my mind won't wander, but it's really a practice to observing/focusing consciousness.

For learning meditation, using apps are great. Headspace is a great app that I highly recommend. Calm is also good (already mentioned).


Does meditating on biblical truths count? I can't claim to do it day and night, but I did make a practice of regularly recalling biblical truths and reviewing scripture I have memorized when applicable to the situations I face throughout the day, especially with my kids. Very different from Eastern meditation.

"How blessed is the man who does not walk in the counsel of the wicked, Nor stand in the path of sinners, Nor sit in the seat of scoffers! But his delight is in the law of the LORD, And in His law he meditates day and night." Psalm 1:1-2

Great resources here: http://www.desiringgod.org/messages/meditate-on-the-word-of-...


I don't meditate traditionally, but I think that motorcycle riding has a meditative effect; it draws my mind squarely into the present moment, giving me something intense enough to focus on that the noise around the edges of my brain just has to shut up for a while. It's a whole-body experience, too, especially when the road has some twists in it. I feel like I function better as a human being, generally, when I am using a motorcycle as my normal form of transportation.

Downhill skiing, bouldering, and sea kayaking are other activities which have offered enough of a rush to draw my enthusiastic participation, but which, once I'm in them, have tended to produce a calm, clear, present-focused mental state. I suppose that adrenaline functions as a pretty powerful "BE HERE NOW" signal.

Also, I've had experiences which felt like meditation in conjunction with psychedelics. At a campout last spring I remember spending most of an hour giggling to myself as I attempted to clear my mind of all words... I was just sitting there looking at the moon, "shoosh"ing my brain whenever words popped up, trying to just be in the moment, and see what "wordless thoughts" might feel like.


What you described above with motorcycle riding, skiing, bouldering, etc are known as "peak experiences" and associated with "flow". There's been a lot of study going into the benefits of these things which is pretty neat.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Peak_experience

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Flow_(psychology)


Vipassana, which is a Theravada Buddhist tradition, via a 10-day intensive retreat. It's a remarkable practice for it's minimalism: there is no chanting, mantra, no imagination or visualization, no controlled breathing, etc. You are asked to observe the body and the breath "as it is". In so doing, you will experience various discomforts, which you learn to use to defeat the enemy of aversion, and pleasures, with which you learn to defeat the enemy of craving.

They ask students to practice 2 hours per day. I rarely do two hours, but find one hour in the evening to work. I also still drink alcohol on occasion, which means I will never qualify for the 20-day retreat. C'est la vie.

Check it out at http://dhamma.org


In India everything has been commercialized perhaps except Vipassana at Dhamma. They now have centers all across the world. Being born and brought up in India, the land of yoga, meditation etc. , I have seen so much commercialization around that I never rely on the "gurus". Vipassana was a breath of fresh air. I went for a 10 days course. They are not about cult formation, conversion etc. This was perhaps the purest form of meditation teaching I saw. All the fooding and lodging was taken care by the Dhamma team and never for once did they even hinted us to offer money.

If you ever want to learn meditation, apply for a Vipassna retreat, take 10 days out of your schedule and see the difference. You can upvote me later.


Nice to see another Vipassana person around HN. I took my first course in 2002 in North Fork, CA, and have taken roughly one per year every since.


Yes, a friend who has taken courses on meditation and put me on to this short book:

https://www.amazon.com/Deep-Meditation-Pathway-Personal-Free...

I wake early to meditate for 20 minutes before I do anything else. The book describes the technique where you concentrate on a mantra, in this case 'I AM'. If your mind start on thoughts, you gently come back to the mantra but never fighting the thoughts.

The book is pretty short and is a good read for someone taking up meditation (I've never done it before and I found it to be a good primer).

Together with this meditation in the morning, I exercise immediately after. Been doing it for a few months now and I have found that my days get off to a really positive start. I have more energy and less likely to be easily agitated.


There are various things I do which I consider to be forms of meditation:

-sitting down in a shower with the lights off

-going for a walk in the forest with no cell phone

-laying in a hammock by a river

-long distance running while focusing on my breathing and form

-rock climbing

Basically anything that enables me to cease compulsive thinking/worrying patterns and focus on the here and now


I use an app called 'Calm'. It focuses on mindful breathing through 10-15 minute guided sessions. I have been using it daily for just over 3 weeks and have already noticed some differences in my ability to discern thought patterns that are not useful, and am often able to bring my mind back to the present. Not all the time - meditation isn't a fix-all for stress. But it has helped me thus far.


+1 for Calm

I am a very pragmatic meditator. I meditate around once a week whenever I feel stress building up. As someone with little technique, and little desire to wade through mostly esoteric resources, Calm manages to guide me through a very relaxing meditation.

Okay, I am not that crazy of a fanboy as that reads. I realize that its not THAT revolutionary, and it might be a bit expensive if you use it that little, but hey, it works for me.


My formal sitting (and walking) meditation practice is mostly Shamatha-Vipassana oriented, including Metta meditation.

I'll be happy to answer any specific questions that you may have about those practices.


Just saw this:

Long-term meditation fights age-related cognitive decline:

http://www.memory-key.com/research/news/long-term-meditation...

via this article:

Anapanasati:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Anapanasati

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Anapanasati#cite_note-16

Interesting.


I like to go back to the roots. The original Patanjali Yoga. Yama, Niyama, Asana, Pranayama, Pratyahara, Dhyana, Dharana, Samadhi. It has been a life long practice, but has worked quite well for me.

If you know Hindi the Patanjal Yoga Pradeep is the quintessential treatise on the subject, including a systematic reconciliation of the six systems of Indian Philosophy.

I've been studying the Pratyahara phase of yoga lately. The withdrawal of the senses inward away from external sensory stimuli. It is quite powerful, and opens you up to the ability to quite literally witness the formation of thoughts from subtle nothingness.


> opens you up to the ability to quite literally witness the formation of thoughts from subtle nothingness.

I may not have been sufficiently charitable in reading this, but this appears to be either butchering the English language, or utter tripe.


It is hard to explain so kindly forgive the butchering. But there was a point in my meditation where everything was perfectly still and calm, and suddenly, I don't quite know how to explain it, a thought formed in my mind. It is not a thought in the tautological sense, where one idea flowed to the next, but it arose from a state of nothingness.

At the same time it couldn't be nothing, because how can something (a thought) come from nothing. It wasn't quite gross enough to be perceivable hence I termed it subtle nothingness..


Elaborate. Often ideas you are not ready for will seem like nonsense.


I try and practice meditation in the vein of stoics like Seneca and Marcus Aurelius.

If I find myself distracted by a personal situation, I try and dissect it according to what values I hold dear, and how my current and past actions have done to further or detract from those values. This can involve some journaling or talking to myself, so I tend to save it for showers, late nights working, or long drives.

That being said I'm pretty amateur at this kind of stuff, but even the very basic level at which I practice some form of meditation really helps clear my head in the fast-paced and sometimes petty world of tech.


I actually have some questions about this subject, as I'm still figuring out where/how to start with it. I think I'm beginning to grasp the varied benefits of actually making the effort so (finally) have some motivation to work with, but I've kind of drowned in the SnR of poor-quality information out there.

My interest in meditation is somewhat indirect; IIUC, it's an apparently-necessary stepping-stone to energy perception/study/work, becoming aware of the process of falling asleep, and trance states, three subjects I've been extremely interested in for some time, but which (like meditation) I have no idea where to start with. My attempts to figure and figure them out intuitively haven't really gone anywhere concrete either (...yet).

If anyone has any pointers on studying meditation to the above ends (and particularly if you have any ideas/advice about the things I've mentioned!) I'd love to hear whatever you have to say (email is cool, but I might take a while to respond).

I've actually wanted to ask this on HN for a little while now, but a thread for such topics would... well I don't think it'd be squarely kicked out, but it likely wouldn't be voted up too high.


I am a Karate practitioner of an Okinawan traditional system and our main focus of study is kata, or form work. Once you have learned and become very familiar with the form where you don't have to think about the biomechanics, it can be a moving meditation with the same benefits.

In the monasteries and temples of China and India, where Karate can be traced back to, martial arts were practiced not only for self-defense but for therapeutic benefits as well.

If you have trouble sitting still, sometimes a moving meditation can help. This does not mean you have to go out and study a martial art for 4302842 years. It can be a simple exercise.

Think of a nice 30 minute walk that you enjoy taking and go out and walk. Try to be present and observe your own footsteps. Try to feel the weight shifting from one foot to the other. Notice if the sun is out. Can you feel it on your skin? Does it pick up your energy? Or does it make you tired? What kind of relationship do you have with the sun? Don't just think about it intellectually. Feel it out. Its happening right now (if you're on the walk). Bring yourself back to the shifting of your weight between your two legs.

Meditation is about being present. Its about tuning into yourself, without the filters of your mind. You don't need anything.

Another simple meditation exercise, which also helps to massage the organs with the breath: -Lay flat on your back -Place one hand on your belly and one hand on your chest -Can you make the hand on your belly rise up as you inhale, without making the hand on your chest move up. In other words, you're breathing into your belly and not your chest. This is a more natural, deeper breath. Repeat for ten minutes, or however long. Even after 10 breaths, you might notice a difference.


I sit in the dark on a chair maintaining straight back and eyes closed for 20 minutes every morning and try to think about nothing. This is how I imagine meditating. I don't really understand all that other stuff like mindfulness or whatever they call it. My way does have a noticeable positive impact (on me at least) and that's good enough for me.


Pretty similar stuff - in "mindfulness" I think it's about focusing on the perception of your senses, how the chair feels behind your back, what sounds you're hearing and while you're doing that, you're not thinking.


I also do similar things, though not very often anymore. It's basically intentionally zoning out but I like to think of it as "mindlessness" now to contrast it. Techniques like focusing on body sensation can be part of mindfulness (I don't really do them except sometimes to help get into the mindless state -- I get comfy for my zoning out because I don't even want to be aware of my body if I can help it) but mindfulness is more about actually thinking. One of the times I tried a guided mindfulness session (from their website -- it's very corporate...) they said something like "think of a time you were talking with a friend, spouse, or therapist about an important situation in your life, and when the conversation was over you felt lighter, loved, and cared for." I couldn't think of such a time. Nor even imagine such a sequence of events happening ot me. Similar attempts done by company speakers randomly at all-hands meetings had similar guiding phrases that evoked no emotional memory in me at least. I don't work that way. If it was more general like "recall the feeling of being cared for", sure, I can muster something, but I don't think that's very helpful. Others' mileage may vary.


I only focus on an imaginable empty space in front of me and totally blank my mind. It's not easy, because thoughts do come back, but with practice it gets better. Those times I manage to "get in the zone" it feels like time slows down considerably, so I always set a timer for 20 minutes (limited time in the morning, etc). What is even more interesting and fascinating is that by now I've meditated hundreds of times, but every single time the general feeling is different. I guess this could be attributed to endless complexity of a human mind.


I currently use two apps: Simple Habit and Oak by Kevin Rose. The latter is in public beta and should be generally available in a few weeks. Both apps take different approaches to meditation where Simple Habit is like "Netflix for meditation", Oak is more minimal.

Simple Habit - https://www.simplehabit.com/

Oak - https://www.facebook.com/groups/1673249232974412/


Meditation is the simplest thing, yet people manage to overcomplicate it. And they need app for that :).

Guided meditation is maybe useful first time. They are distracting and they are disruptive for genuine meditation. I know some people like them.

I don't follow any systems, I like to use binaural waves, often created by myself, and just relax. Mind sometimes runs and it is OK to let it run for a while, then calm it down. Focus on body parts and progressively relax them for longer meditation.

While no sound is required, some background soundscape is good to insulate you from environment.

Sometimes my meditation is focused on emptying the mind, sometimes I enjoy thinking in deep states of relaxation about different things. Both work well. Once you are practiced enough, you can go to deep states without falling asleep. Even if you do, it is not a big deal.


The 2 types of meditation that I practice I are mindfulness and concentration. Mindfulness practice has enabled me to become aware of the arising of unskillful compulsions, the habitual patterns of thought which give rise to them and to halt their progress. Concentration practice, on the other hand, builds the muscle of attention so that it becomes easier to stay focused and fully absorbed on whatever target you select. I have found that the combination of the 2 has enabled me rewire less skillful habitual patterns of thought and to replace them with more skillful patterns. I have found the instruction of Gil Fronsdal at the Insight Meditation Center in Redwood City to be the most valuable.


Thank you for your answers. I practice a heart based meditation http://en-us.heartfulness.org Wish you the best in your individual practices.


Transcendental Meditation (TM) Maharishi, an advocate of Transcendental Meditation defines the purpose, “The goal of Transcendental Meditation is the state of enlightenment. This means we experience that inner calmness, that quiet state of least excitation, even when we are dynamically busy.” In this Hindu tradition you sit in Lotus, internally chant a mantra, and focus on rising above the negativity.

However, to effectively learn how to practice this form of meditation, expert guidance is recommended. There is internet resources, classes, or even meditation retreats to better learn this form of meditation.


TM is a pretty terrible organization.

They used to officially believe all sorts of crazy things, like that their meditation could make you fly, or make you invisible, or that if the square root of 1% of a city meditated, then it would dramatically lower violent crime.

They charge huge amounts of money for very little value - a course to learn TM is something like $500, even though the whole technique could be described in 30 seconds.

They claim that you get a unique mantra based on your personality, and that the mantra is a powerful magical vibration energy word (or some such junk). In actuality, the mantra is chosen based on only your age (and sometimes gender).

The TM centers also sell snake oil - they have tons of teas, powders, supplements, etc, for cleansing your toxic energy.

Of course they have studies done by practitioners of TM that claim it is amazing, but there aren't really any unbiased studies about it.

The current leader of the movement, a former physicist, received the Ignobel Prize (like the Nobel prize but for stupidity) for his beliefs in the crazy parts of TM.

All of that being said, as a technique, it's not bad for meditation. It's just run by a shady organization that believes in magic and will charge you tons of money.


I use this app called Insight Timer on iOS. I use Bose noise cancelling headphones when I meditate as it helps cut any surrounding noise. I started with the free tunes that Insight Timer provided and meditated for 5 minutes in the morning. I have slowly increased it to about 15 minutes and purchased some of the other tunes via in app purchase on the app. Daily meditation definitely helps stay calm the rest of the day. I also use the same app after I get back home from work and use a different tune and it helps unwind.


Yup, Zen Buddhist-style, breath awareness/pranayama, qi gong, and taiji.

(I also do a few of the things wi-ikkyu mentions, but I differentiate them from meditation, but acknowledge some of the similarities.)


Yes, I'm using Headspace. I've been following it for just over a year. I either spend 15 mins at the start of my day or just after the daily standup which finishes at 11am my time.


This is what I practice: https://obcon.org/dharma/buddhism/the-eightfold-path/#8.

> The form of meditation practiced in our Order is that of the Soto Zen tradition. It is called “serene reflection meditation”, which is a translation of the Japanese terms “zazen” and “shikan-taza”.


Every morning for 20 minutes starting about 18 months ago, it's been very useful. I started with "The Mindful Geek" https://www.amazon.com.au/Mindful-Geek-Mindfulness-Meditatio... and found it useful and secular.


Maha Mantra Yoga...sound vibrarion is the current sync-practice for this time, Kali yuga. If you want to listen to the news you tune in to a radio signal. Similarly any Name of God repeated and concentrated listening upon such vibration is bhakti yoga. The practice is the goal since Absoluteness is simultaenously one and different. Vedic knowledge is our origins.


I experimented with a few systems - headspace, calm, some mantra repeating similar to TM.

What works for me is just to sit there at my computer seat, eyes closed, with jazz playing on my headphones. Breathe in, breathe out. I do it for at least half an hour before starting work.

When you get down to it, mediation is just about forcing your mind to run in subconscious, maintenance mode.


  jazz playing on my headphones
Check out Bob James / Earl Klugh "One on One" and the original Pat Metheny Group album if you haven't already; they are ideal for this.


Yes, meditation is vital and a regular practice can bring serenity to your life, and the lives of those around you.

Many people have different systems and different ideas as to what constitutes meditation, but it is essentially investigation into the nature of being, or the nature of mind, or the nature of Reality. In close, attentive and relaxed examination, one's mind+body complex is gradually becoming more attuned to better information about the quality of direct experience.

When I first got into practicing, I started reading voraciously every book on Buddhism I could find. Still, one of my favorite resources is accesstoinsight.org/ which has a compiled index of all the preserved discourses of the Buddha (in English and other languages).

Nowadays, you may find Zazen strong and attractive, it is also a field of poetry / reflection / study / meditation / lifestyle that simplifies everything down to "Proper Meditation Posture = Enlightenment" which, with the older I get and the more experienced I become, seems more and more true (!) If you'd like a book recommendation, I highly praise "Zen Mind, Beginner's Mind" by Suzuki Roshi.

In a nutshell, there's calm-abiding meditation, which is almost as if one is training engagement-at-will of their parasympathetic nervous system; and then there's insight-meditation, which comes about spontaneously and happens more frequently the stronger one's study and contemplation is/are.

The mission is not "to create a new system in the imagination to grasp onto" -- samadhi and the cultivation of wisdom is about de-patterning or un-patterning. So, the perfect "system" or morsel of contemplation unravels all on its own. Keep that in mind.

You may wonder what about Buddha's teaching really attracts me, and it is because Buddha taught causality (cause, condition, effect) and he relayed how experiences blossom and bloom in relation to our actions/deeds and intentions. There is no other tradition in the world that stresses so heavily causality and its undeniability. That appeals to me greatly, as there is no God to pray to or any sort of external force that must be appealed to. Although there are elements of that in many of the developed and culturally affluent adaptations, it is not something one needs to practice or progress.

Meditation becomes easier as one's attitude becomes more positive and relaxed, and this happens as one's motivation aligns itself with being of benefit to others. Our peak potential nature is purely altruistic. It is taught that the highest motivation is to be of benefit to all infinite sentient beings [including oneself], and cultivating that mentality over a long period of time with strong resolve and dedication is like a fast-path to freedom.

So you ask about Meditation, but really that question has many facets: your life and the actions you take must bend toward virtue, so that your resting mind will have the assurance that the rest is earned. It's really fascinating: the more good you do for others in the world, the easier your meditation will be, and the easier and more relaxed you are about your daily life, the happier the people around you are, and stronger and stronger we go.

So yeah, meditation is instantaneous investigation into this moment of reality and all its constituent sensory modalities, and it is also a way of abiding by uncovering more of what's already present beyond our ordinary attention.

Striving to bloom beyond the limits of conceptualization, rest in this very nodule of being.

By far the most profound practices in my life have been the practices of the Four Immeasurable States or Four Divine Abodes (The Brahma-Viharas) where actively, through repetition of phrases and skillful recollections, one cultivates Compassion, Lovingkindness, Empathic/Sympathetic Joy, and Equality/Equanimity. The fundamental notion being that these fields of awesomeness are naturally-existent potentials in everyone and can be activated, cultivated and deepened through practice and conscious effort (karuna, metta, mudita, upekkha are the sanskrit names of these 4 qualities respectively).

Be strong and loving and joyful, and may all incline toward Virtue! To meditate frequently with just a little bit of philosophy is much better than lots of study with no practice.


I was taken aback by how incredibly naive/amateurish most of the answers so far are, but I'd rather upvote and try to highlight this post instead which is excellent and very insightful.

An extra piece of advice for anyone serious about learning meditation:

1. You'll need a teacher. Find your local Buddhist centre and chances are they'll have classes focused on teaching beginners. You simply won't learn by making something up yourself and calling it meditation, or reading stuff on the internet (including my answer) - you'll need both guidance and someone to look up to. I can't stress this enough: even the Buddha himself had teachers :)

2. "Meditation" as a technique is obviously found in countless religions and other secular systems, so that some people claim you can learn "mindfulness" as a stand-alone tool, without the Buddhist package that usually comes with it.

Although it might be possible to a certain extent, the understanding you'll have of the practice will be immensely impoverished. You don't have to become a Buddhist to practice meditation, but without some Buddhist context you'll limit yourself to an extremely diluted, dumbed-down version of the real thing. So I'd recommend you start there, and in time you'll carve your own path.

Best of luck, it's an incredible journey.


I’ve been using Autogenics to help with my really bad insomnia. I guess it is a form of mediation and it really works. I am surprised at how well and how quickly it helped.

http://www.guidetopsychology.com/autogen.htm


Yes, and I cannot recommend it enough. I follow the Theravada/Thai Forest tradition and practice several meditation techniques from it such as mindfulness of breathing (anapanasati), loving kindness meditation (metta), and death contemplation (asubha).



these UCLA online classes were fun and effective for me: https://ccle.ucla.edu/course/index.php?categoryid=16


I've heard a lot about Transcendental Meditation but it makes my spidey senses tingle because it feels cult-ish.

At $500-$1,000 it also seems very expensive

https://www.tm.org/


Copy and pasting my earlier comment about TM - TLDR for it is that the org is terrible but the technique is not bad (it's pretty generic: sit comfortably, repeat your given mantra, allow other outside thoughts to rise up and pass through you. Don't fight them, just think them and then go back to your mantra. Repeat for 15-20 minutes twice a day).

TM is a pretty terrible organization.

They used to officially believe all sorts of crazy things, like that their meditation could make you fly, or make you invisible, or that if the square root of 1% of a city meditated, then it would dramatically lower violent crime.

They charge huge amounts of money for very little value - a course to learn TM is something like $500, even though the whole technique could be described in 30 seconds.

They claim that you get a unique mantra based on your personality, and that the mantra is a powerful magical vibration energy word (or some such junk). In actuality, the mantra is chosen based on only your age (and sometimes gender).

The TM centers also sell snake oil - they have tons of teas, powders, supplements, etc, for cleansing your toxic energy.

Of course they have studies done by practitioners of TM that claim it is amazing, but there aren't really any unbiased studies about it.

The current leader of the movement, a former physicist, received the Ignobel Prize (like the Nobel prize but for stupidity) for his beliefs in the crazy parts of TM.

All of that being said, as a technique, it's not bad for meditation. It's just run by a shady organization that believes in magic and will charge you tons of money.


I heard it is quite cultish but it works and is worth the price if you have the money.


I took the happiness course from Art of Living to learn Sudarshan Kriya. I don't have a regular practice, but when I'm feeling stressed I'll usually do it twice a day. When I wake up and before I fall asleep.


+1 Sudarshan Kriya is awesome I tried different methods, read books, but couldn't meditate until I did that. Been doing it for almost 20 years


I have been using the brain.fm app for over a year now. Has medication, focus and nap/sleep modules.


Headspace. Just hit my second 30-day run. Easy, life-changing.


I use the Headspace app, it's awesome


Transcendental meditation


See my above comment - please don't pay them $1000 to learn this technique.


No.




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